Book Review: Holy Sexuality and the Gospel by Christopher Yuan

195 pages, Multnomah, 2018

Probably few issues can ignite the fires of dialogue in the church more than sexuality. Here 20 years into the 2000s, we are still contending with this complex topic. One of the more insightful voices on homosexuality and the church is that of Dr. Christopher Yuan. I’ve read Yuan’s story — dramatic, transformative; not unlike Saul on the way to Damascus! Dr. Yuan is a type of St. Paul for Christians struggling with same-sex attraction (also known as SSA).

This book tackles some assumptions held by well-meaning parishioners, and guides both strugglers and other Christians into what questions we can — and at times, should — ask.

The first 3 chapters address identity; this includes the image of God and what it means for us. Chapters 4 and 5 dig into anthropology and the implications of the doctrine of sin: sin’s effect has twisted sexuality for ALL people. Chapter 6 lays out the Biblical case that there are really only 2, not 200, options for acceptable sexual behavior: chastity in singleness, or faithfulness in marriage.

Dr. Yuan addresses very common misconceptions in our churches here. He writes, “By simply stating ‘heterosexuality is right’ without qualification, we imply a tacit endorsement of all sexual immorality … we must also recognize that heterosexuality is not synonymous with biblical marriage. This is the bottom line: by broadly affirming heterosexuality, we also, whether inadvertently or not, endorse heterosexual sin.” (46). Later, he states “Heterosexuality will not get you into heaven and is not the ultimate goal for those with same-sex attractions … the biblical opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality–that’s not the ultimate goal.

I recommend this book highly for those who have loved ones identifying as ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’, and any LCMS parishioners who may be suffering from SSA in isolation and fear. May this be a comfort to them: same-sex attraction does not magically cancel out or replace one’s baptism into Christ. Don’t let anyone, or any devil, tell you otherwise.

Review by Sally Finck